Do you consider watch time the most important metric for online video? YouTube adopted it as its key metric and it would appear Twitch seems to agree. What’s more, in its look back on 2015, Twitch reported that its average user was watching over 130 more minutes of video each month versus the average YouTube user, at over 7 hours per month!

The massive amount of time spent watching Twitch is a good indication of not only the health of eSports, but also one of many signs that suggest marketers should be using part of their budget on Twitch, especially if they are targeting a similar demographic as Twitch’s gamers.

Twitch: Building Success via the Community

Twitch watched 2015The leader in live-streaming is building its brand not just through content, but also through community, following in the footsteps of YouTube before it. 2015 was the inaugural year for TwitchCon, which saw over 20,000 fans gather in San Francisco this past year to celebrate live streaming and eSports. For comparison, it took YouTube’s own flagship gathering, VidCon, six gatherings to reach similar numbers. For those that couldn’t attend, Twitch had 1.9 million people watch online. That is a great opportunity to add value to your community and advertisers. VidCon take note! One can’t overstate the value of a thriving, inspired community when building an online video presence. An important piece of building Twitch’s community has been based around charity work. It raised over $17 million for more than 55 different charities in 2015.

Although Twitch has expanded to include more than just games recently, it is clearly driven by the eSports scene. As eSports gain in popularity, so too does Twitch. It saw its peak concurrent viewers occur last year on August 23rd, when over 2 million viewers tuned in for a massive pair of eSports events in ESL One: Cologne 2015 and the League of Legends NA LCS Finals. While that’s not Super Bowl type numbers, it is very close to the numbers reported for the first NFL streamed game in 2015, which had 2.36 million viewers.

Twitch has developed such a strong, personal relationship with the gaming community that it is now appearing in games such as H1Z1, Rocket League and through XBox Avatars. Twitch has even developed its own sort of creative language through emoticons and allowed its streamers to sell custom packs to viewers. It reports that over 9 billion messages were sent last year at a rate of over 17,400 messages per minute. That’s a lot of Kappas. If you are unfamiliar with the #1 emoticon on Twitch, it’s their own way of expressing sarcasm, through the face of a former Justin.TV employee. Twitch has even inspired a community run site that does nothing but track the usage of emoticons.

twitch vs youtube minutes watchedPerhaps the biggest reason for the community support of Twitch is because it has spent a lot of resources in supporting its community. It now boasts the ability to “broadcast, watch, and chat from every major gaming platform on Earth”. While Twitch is primarily enjoyed through the Web, with 56% of its viewership watching there, it had over 1 million mobile installs this year that contributed to the now 35% of their viewers that are mobile. Twitch is supporting the demands of its community wherever they broadcast.

Twitch has proven itself the leader in streaming gaming content, giving its viewers both the content they desire and the ability to connect with like-minded fans in a unique way. That’s a recipe for success in online video. I see a particular opportunity for Twitch in the coming years to use that same infrastructure and formula to capture the traditional sports market, who still relies primarily on television. It’s a tall order for Twitch, no doubt, but if it could get major sporting leagues to make their home on Twitch, there is no telling where this company could go.